What’s a ‘Non-Linear’ Digital Story, and How Are They Made?
Digital storytelling is the best way available today to communicate complex stories and add emotional impact. Digital stories are incredibly powerful tools for motivating people to action, enhancing educational programs, and creating lasting change. They’re also great for selling, because you can communicate a message that speaks personally to each viewer or participant.
In essence, a digital story is a story that is told using digital technology; this can be with technology as simple as a regular digital display, or as complex as a fully immersive experience room, and anything in between. Today, social media is becoming an interesting venue for new storytelling concepts.
Because of the constraints of older video technologies (and the legacy effects of video editing software), these digital stories are essentially made in a linear way. However, recent advances in digital storytelling software have made it possible to create non-linear storytelling experiences using individual units of content. This modular approach has big benefits for business, as we’ll explore more in a moment.
So, What’s Different about a Non-Linear Story?
A non-linear story differs from a regular, linear story, because it doesn’t offer a single possible path or outcome.
A simple example of this can be seen from ‘choose your own adventure’ books, which give readers options for choosing the next stage in the story. In essence, this is what we do with non-linear digital storytelling, because we’re selecting from different options to create new journeys and connections.
How Is it Still a Story?
Even when pieces of digital content are actually unrelated, the human brain has a natural tendency to put scenes together and make connections between them when they are shown as a ‘single story’.
The effects of this are significant, because the viewer will interpret each ‘scene’ in relation to the other stories they have already seen – it’s the context effect in action.
This gives us powerful new ways to re-use existing content, by linking existing products, services and brand stories to current events or stories that are particularly relatable to the viewer. This can be done over and over again, because of the modular construction.
One value of this is that we can use this phenomenon to create new and customized contexts for old digital content. A little like using an old accessory with a new outfit – context makes all the difference.
This has substantial value in a modern business setting, because it offers the ability to constantly update, modify, and adjust our brand’s digital stories to keep up with changes in culture and customer preferences. It also ensures that digital media assets retain their value for longer, by being available for creating new non-linear stories from independent story ‘modules’.
It also means that old digital media assets can keep delivering returns, by keeping those investments active and effective. When companies invest in strategic assets like digital media, immersive experience rooms, and customer experience centers, they need to get the most value from these assets.
Solving the Complexity of Non-Linear Digital Storytelling
Early experiments in non-linear digital storytelling used rudimentary methods like hypertext to map out decision-trees and activate the corresponding digital media assets. This was a laborious process, because it required extensive manual mapping-out of all the possibilities.
Today, we can use powerful digital storytelling software to assemble complete digital stories, in a modular way, from a single content library. This makes the creation of unique and customized digital stories easy.
Non-linear digital storytelling has been demonstrated to have powerful effects and positive impacts in training programs and the area of personal development, because these are experienced as a personal journey, which is more memorable.
How Can a ‘Non-Linear’ Story Also Be ‘Planned’?
In business, non-linear digital storytelling gives the ability to create fully customized versions of digital stories, in a semi-planned or entirely planned way.
It might seem a contradiction in terms to have a planned, non-linear story – in fact there’s no contradiction. The non-linear part of the description refers to the way the story is constructed, not how it’s experienced.
Every story is experienced in a linear way – sequentially – even if it could be experienced in a different order or with a different path entirely.
Using Powerful Digital Storytelling Software for Non-Linear Storytelling
Although non-linear storytelling has incredible benefits, it has been difficult to achieve until recently due to a lack of the right tools. Today however, there are digital storytelling software options that enable people to create non-linear digital stories very easily. Many of these are designed for use by keen amateurs and in educational settings, but there are now incredibly powerful pieces of enterprise-grade digital storytelling software for businesses. These can handle immense complexity and are robust enough to use for corporate presentations, hybrid events, live streaming, and virtual studios.
A well-designed digital storytelling platform has all the capabilities that you could want for a corporate application, while being easy to use. This ensures that the maximum business value can be gained from hardware, software, and digital media assets.short url: